Love is a Choice

Over the past 19+ months, I’ve been surprised both with how easily motherhood has come to me, and how difficult it’s been to adjust to this new-ish role at the same time.

For instance, I thought I would fall in love with my baby as soon as (s)he was born. I didn’t know how this was going to happen, but I kind of figured it would – I mean, isn’t that what’s supposed to happen?! It didn’t. (Sidenote: Kate wrote an awesome post about this.) I didn’t suffer from PPD or anything like that, but I felt disconnected from Clara for quite a few days after she was born. I felt guilty about the disconnect, because I had expected the unconditional love to come more naturally and quickly than it did. I breastfed, I cuddled her, and I loved looking at her, but she didn’t seem like MY baby and I didn’t instantly feel like a mom.

Love Is A Choice - even for moms

Now that I’m the mom to an exuberant toddler, I’m still figuring out what being Clara’s mother looks like. It looks different in every stage of her life. Being a newborn mom is different than being a mom to an infant and once Clara started moving… well, it was a whole new ballgame to adjust to. And now I have the ‘terrible twos’ and the lovely three year old stages to look forward to, but I know I shouldn’t get ahead of myself! I really am enjoying the stage we’re in right now.

On the hard days, I need to remind myself that love is a choice, even when it comes to motherhood. I mean, I often hear that advice when it relates to marriage, but I don’t often hear it referring to motherhood. But sometimes, when Clara does something a bit frustrating like – oh I don’t know – throwing her entire lunch on the floor to feed Ozzie before she even tries a bite, I need to remind myself 1) to breathe and 2) that I love this daughter o’ mine even when I’m feeling especially impatient.

Because being a mom isn’t a choice I make every day, just like being a spouse isn’t a choice I continue to make. In both cases, I made my decision years ago and now I can choose what kind of mom and spouse I want to be. Even though my first impulse is sometimes to be impatient and selfish, I can choose to be patient and kind and loving and giving… even when it’s hard, and even when I’m tired, and even when there are scrambled eggs all over my floor 5 seconds after a cleaning service finished mopping. Not that this has ever happened. (OK, it happened last week and I almost cried.)

Being a mom has truly made me face the worst things about myself, and I take it as a constant challenge to be better for myself and my family, because they deserve the best version of myself and I deserve to be the best version of myself. I want to choose to love (and love well) every change I get. I never knew how selfish I truly was (and am) until I became a mom. I also never realized how upset I could get over the smallest things. Nothing has made me realize how much I need God’s grace more than becoming a parent who struggles to give grace to my child, my husband, and myself. I feel guilty about not being joyfully devoted to my family at every given moment. If I’m being honest, sometimes I feel a bit trapped in my lifestyle when I think about the freedom I used to have as a woman in the working world who had no responsibilities to anyone but herself and to God.

But I remind myself that all of these conflicting feelings are okay, because I’m not perfect and I can’t expect myself to be. I choose to put in the effort to be the best mother I can be every single day, and sometimes I fail miserably, while other days I feel like ‘super mom’. On any day, whether it’s particularly good or especially bad, I am confident that I am the absolute best mom that Clara is going to have, and I know that I’m doing my best.

Maybe I’ll be better prepared with Baby Beni, but I have a feeling that adding a second child to the mix is only going to make these feelings all the more apparent and complicated.

Don’t get me wrong, the love that has come with motherhood is unlike anything I could ever experience outside of this very unique relationship, but it does not always come to me naturally – sometimes loving Clara well is truly a conscious decision.

(Today I’m linking up with these ladies to discuss the topic of ‘Motherhood Mindset’: LisaAlexisAmber MarieRachealAmber JoyAmanda, and Katie.)

Do you feel like motherhood came naturally to you?

This entry was posted in imperfection, loved ones, motherhood and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Love is a Choice

  1. This is beautiful. Once again, I love how you write with so much transparency.

  2. Alexis Milneck Edwards says:

    “If I’m being honest, sometimes I feel a bit trapped in my lifestyle when I think about the freedom I used to have as a woman” I feel trapped a lot. I think too often the guilt prevents us from still feeding the woman we were before children. She’s still there inside of us needing love too. Like you said though, giving love to anyone (esp ourselves) is so much easier said than done. But holding awareness about the difficulty inherent in loving well, I believe truly helps us love even more deeply. Great post!

  3. oh no way. even now, i sometimes wonder if i’m screwing kayla up in the years to come LOL. i suffered from awful PPD for 2.5yrs so i was basically not all there and while i do feel guilty at that, i know that that part of my life is over and i’m/we’re all in a MUCH better place.

    motherhood is hard and with each age, comes new challenges. i am NOT looking forward to her teenage years, that’s for sure!

    • Lisa says:

      Oh I’m pretty sure Clara will need therapy for a whole assortment of things when she gets older… I’ll just tag along with her to make sure she’s making a fair assessment 😉 And don’t even get me started on the teenage years… shudder.

  4. Lisa says:

    Hahahaha a glow worm?! I love it!

  5. Kalyn P says:

    I’m (quite obviously) not a mother, but I can definitely appreciate your honesty here, and take away from this post. Being able to admit our flaws is the first step in being able to work toward becoming a better person. My husband and I just had a conversation last night about the ways we fail in our marriage (not me saying: you fail at doing XYZ but rather I am failing at doing XYZ) and ways we could improve our marriage together and individually. It’s a tough conversation, because as humans it’s natural to shy away from openly discussing our flaws, but we had a good outcome. Hats of to you for acknowledging your imperfections and striving to make a conscious effort to better yourself!

  6. Vita_M says:

    Thank you for this post! I will have my first child in July and neither my husband nor I know a thing about parenting so I really appreciated the your thoughts and reflections on motherhood. 🙂

  7. Natasha says:

    Some days I feel totally on top of my game but then other days, this whole motherhood thing really gives me a run for my money. Love being able to connect with other mamas who are real. Keep up the good work!

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks so much, Natasha! I love those days where I’m like ‘gosh, I am AMAZING at being a mom!’ but then other days I think ‘I really may not survive this…’ It’s such a roller coaster!

  8. Katie @ Live Half Full says:

    I totally know what you mean. Loving my baby came easy to me, but it’s definitely made me have to make an effort to be a wife and not just a mom!

  9. Joy Johnson says:

    Love this honest post. We don’t have children yet, but I have honestly always wondered if some women don’t feel “connected” right away. I just feel like it would seem so surreal that the baby you carried for months is suddenly in your arms and it must feel strange in a way. I have thought about that happening to me someday, but felt bad for thinking it – thank you for your heart and for speaking of love and choices and grace. So beautiful.

    • Lisa says:

      I often wonder if I felt especially disconnected to Clara because she was a c-section baby who had to go straight to the NICU, so I didn’t actually see her until hours after she was born, and that led me to have feelings of ‘Oh, this is my baby? Weird.’ It was a complete disconnect for a while! I’m not sure how common it is, but other moms have told me they feel similarly so I think it’s more ‘normal’ than I felt it was at the time – I just don’t think moms like to admit it isn’t always love-at-first-sight.

  10. erinhzauner says:

    this is so spot on. I had the exact same experience as you with the “no insta love” after Amelia was born. not in the overwhelming sense at least. and I find your words to be truer and truer as time goes on.

    • Lisa says:

      Isn’t it crazy to THINK you’re going to feel this immense love and then it be kind of “oh, this is my baby? weird.” I’m embarrassed to admit that post-surgery (c-section, that is) I asked for a strawberry smoothie and a coke before I asked when I could see Clara. I blame the drugs, because then I feel less guilty.

  11. Emily Burgess says:

    Thank you! I sooo needed this today–this is exactly how I feel about my son. I love him and the bond I have with him, but I struggle everyday with wanting to be selfish and just do what I want for a minute (eat a *hot* dinner instead of a cold one after helping him, spending time in the morning with devotion instead of laundry and housework I can’t do at night). I have never been able to put into words my feelings, but you did! Thanks for being a constant support!! You are a great mommy and Baby Beni will be lucky to have you!

    • Lisa says:

      I’m glad you were able to relate, Emily! And I hear ya, there are so many times during the day when I just want 5 minutes to do things for myself, even if it’s just answer a text message! I really appreciate your kind words, it’s so easy to be hard on ourselves as moms and encouragement is always so welcome 🙂

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